Siobhan Toohill

14 November 2013 — Westpac’s 2013 annual review and sustainability report has stated the company has already invested $3.6 billion of $6 billion earmarked for cleantech projects by 2017, showcasing the role big business can play in assisting a sector facing increasing government hostility.

“Progress to date has been primarily in renewable energy including two major wind farms and a solar farm,” the report stated. “This work has been further supported by the establishment of a CleanTech Working Group with representation from across the Westpac Group.”

Other environmental progress included achieving carbon neutrality for the first time; the launch of “Solar Shed” in New Zealand in partnership with Meridian Energy, “offering farmers easy and affordable access to solar energy through a package including a high quality grid connected solar system and a 100 per cent Westpac equipment finance loan”; an education seminar series to small business on managing in a low carbon economy; and a silver CEEDA certification for Westpac data centres.

“Westpac Group has a strong track record in embracing sustainable business practices, and our 2013 report demonstrates the ongoing strength of our commitment,” said Westpac head of sustainability and community Siobhan Toohill.

“What’s more exciting is that it sets out clear targets for the future. These are helping to ensure we’re responding as effectively as possible to the most pressing challenges to the sustainability of our business and our communities more broadly, where we have the skills to make the greatest difference.”

On the social side of sustainability, leadership positions of women increased to 42 per cent, which was supported by recruitment initiatives, development, talent management and leadership role modelling.

Westpac has a target of 50 per cent by 2017, which seems to now be well within reach.

Other key social initiatives included:

  • Increased focus on mainstreaming workplace flexibility to meet the needs of employees and enable greater employee agility and productivity, with flexible workers increasing from 43 per cent in 2010 to 62 per cent in 2012
  • Facilitated internal and external Women of Influence award programs with nominations for external program increasing 40 per cent from previous year
  • Continued growth in representation of mature age employees in the workforce and with training, tools and support to encourage greater participation
  • Released a new Accessibility Action Plan in May 2013 with initiatives to increase inclusion and participation of people with disabilities.
  • Launched a contact centre for Prime of Life customers aged 50-plus years.

View the report online